Law enforcement officials arrested two men yesterday in connection with the sniper shootings in the Washington, D.C. area, which have killed 10 and wounded three others.
One of the suspects is a 40-year-old ex-soldier who fought in the Gulf War. The other suspect is his 20-year-old stepson. The fact that some of the shots were more accurate than others, had led to speculation that there were two gunmen. Already there is talk that the suspects engaged in a sick game of one-upmanship, each taking turns firing on civilians, the winner being the marksman that scored the most kills.
News reports say that police lack that crucial piece of evidence that will definitively link the suspects to the crime, but the suspect's names were released to the public, which suggests that perhaps the police have more evidence than they're willing to share.
Or maybe this is just the wishful thinking of someone who lives in the vicinity of the shootings. Since the sniper attacks began on Oct. 2, D.C.-area residents have had many quiet moments where they've been forced to reconcile themselves to the emptiness of death. We understand killing humans for money or passion, but shooting humans for target practice is incomprehensible. It's absurd to think that a human life simply ends for no reason at all. More so than ordinary crime, the sniper has forced us to confront the fragile nature of our existence.
Perhaps now we can walk - not run - to the store. Perhaps our children can play outdoors again. And perhaps I'll never again see children pressing their faces up against bus windows, their eyes darting around on the lookout for a shooter. That scene was not uncommon after the sniper discharged a bullet into a 13-year-old boy as he walked to class at Bowie Middle School. Perhaps now kids will stop asking their parents for bulletproof vests. Are you a parent? Have you ever tried explaining to a 4-year-old why sometimes people die for no reason?
Already talk has turned to whether the sniper will receive the death penalty. The shootings occurred in Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Virginia. Virginia employs the death penalty; D.C. allows it, but has traditionally been loathe to employ it and Maryland eschews the death penalty, regarding it as uncivilized.
One of the suspects has also been linked to a previous murder in Birmingham, Ala. The Birmingham police chief made it clear during a recent press conference that his state wouldn't hesitate to hand down the death penalty.
The question of jurisdiction is one for the courts.
For now it is enough that our children can play in the park again.